MassDOT contractor facing heat after fatal collision

Firm’s employee involved in crash that killed 13-year-old

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is starting the new year reviewing a contract it has with a highway safety company after one of the firm’s employees was allegedly driving drunk during a fatal collision.

Gregory Goodsell was driving a Hi-Way Safety Systems pickup truck at 7 a.m. on Sunday when he allegedly drove through a red light in Pembroke and hit a Subaru carrying a woman and two 13-year-old girls. One of the girls eventually died from her injuries.

Hi-Way Safety, based in Rockland, provides traffic control equipment and safety board messages to the state Department of Transportation. The company referred questions to its attorney, who was not available for comment.

Separately, another Hi-Way Safety Systems employee, Joseph Amaral, was found unresponsive Sunday morning at 8 a.m. at a motel in Rockland. He was transported to a hospital where he was declared dead. No details have been released on the cause of death.

Office of the Comptroller records show that Hi-Way Safety Systems was paid $4 million in 2019 by MassDOT, and a total of $31 million from state agencies in the past decade.

Records on file with the Department of Transportation indicate Hi-Way Safety has 118 registered drivers and 94 registered vehicles. Over the last two years, the company has been the focus of 29 police or DOT inspections, which resulted in 42 violations.

Goodsell himself has a marred driving history, with 15 infractions, including two crashes. He is being held without bail and has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter while driving under the influence. His license has been suspended by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

NBC10 Boston reports that prosecutors say Goodsell admitted to being impaired after consuming cocaine at a Christmas party thrown by his boss before the collision. He also allegedly had a half-bottle of whiskey in the truck, and witnesses say he was speeding before the crash.

petition on change.org calling on MassDOT to revoke all “current and future contracts” with Hi-Way Safety Systems has attracted more than 8,800 signatures. One commenter said “a company-sponsored Christmas party whose host allows a person to get drunk, then drive away in a company truck, is not a company that deserves state dollars.”

The petition itself says the company is supposed to be responsible for highway safety, “while these actions represent the opposite of this.”

SARAH BETANCOURT


BEACON HILL

The Baker administration has been vague about what it plans to do with any funds from the transportation climate initiative, but former reps Stephen Kulik and Dan Bosley seem to think a lot of the money will be going to western Massachusetts. (Boston Globe)

A number of new laws will have impacts of varying degrees on Massachusetts residents in 2020. (Boston Globe)

William Smith of the Pioneer Institute says price controls, as proposed by Gov. Charlie Baker, are not the way to rein in drug prices. (CommonWealth)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Barnstable County Commissioner Ron Beaty, a Republican, is under fire for asking on social media whether a “civil war” would be preferable to allowing radical socialists to take over American society and the US government. (Brockton Enterprise) 

An early morning fire in Rockland has displaced 20 people and sent one woman to the hospital. (Patriot Ledger) 

The New Bedford Police Union is demanding the removal of Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro, and sent a letter to Mayor Jon Mitchell asking for his removal if Cordeiro does not resign. In response, Mitchell’s office reissued news releases originally sent in September when the union publicly questioned the chief’s leadership and in which the mayor said he has “full confidence” in Cordeiro. (South Coast Today)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The Iraqi government condemned US airstrikes launched inside Syria and Iraq, saying that the strikes were attacks on its sovereignty. (WGBH). Meanwhile, Iranian-backed militia and their supporters threw rocks and set fires at the US Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday. Marines in the compound fired tear gas at the crowds as President Trump called on Iraq to intervene with force. (WGBH)

ELECTIONS

Julián Castro, the former housing secretary who was the only Latino candidate in the Democratic presidential primary, said Thursday he would end his bid for the presidency. (New York Times) 

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Rep. Patrick Kearney says a move by President Trump poses a major threat to the Massachusetts maritime economy. (CommonWealth)

Boston’s construction industry is booming, but housing advocates said slow progress on affordable housing has caused a gentrification “crisis point” that is pricing out people of color and low-income residents. (Boston Herald) 

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Partners HealthCare is vowing to end surprise billing. (CommonWealth)

Massachusetts may drop the permission requirement for minors who are seeking an abortion. (WBUR) 

ARTS/CULTURE

As a couple turns an old mill in Holyoke into a sprawling arts complex, they encounter some immense challenges. (CommonWealth)

Should private, nonprofit colleges open their libraries to the public? (CommonWealth)

TRANSPORTATION 

The big squeeze at Big Dig 2 — state officials struggle to make all the transportation elements fit at the makeover of the Allston I-90 interchange. (CommonWealth)

The Boston Globe editorial page hops on what appears to be a growing bandwagon and calls for eliminating fares for buses in Boston. The paper suggests the city or a private benefactor should pick up the tab.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Teen arrests drop steeply after passage of criminal justice reform. (MassLive)

MEDIA

A Boston Globe editorial says the Federal Communications Commission went too far in issuing hefty fines on pirate radio stations serving the Haitian community.

The Supreme Judicial Court rules in favor of an editor at the UMass Boston newspaper in a closely watched defamation case. (Boston Globe)